|Cyprus has since the dawn of time been the gateway to Europe, Asia and Africa being strategically situated at the crossroads of the three continents. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, with an area of 9.251 square kilometres, situated in its north eastern corner lying some 800 kilometres east of mainland Greece and 75 kilometres south of Turkey, with Lebanon 150 kilometres to the east and the Egyptian coast approximately 350 kilometres to the south. The landscape of the island varies dramatically: two dominating mountain ranges; a central plain; and famed beaches, all contribute to the varied scenery and breath-taking backdrops. With a sub-tropical climate, Cyprus experiences relatively mild winters and hot summers. Boasting one of the warmest climates in the Mediterranean, the average temperature along the coast is at 24 degrees Celsius.
The island has a very rich history with the first evidence of human habitation being traced back to around 10.000BC. Cyprus was famous for its precious copper resources and in fact the island’s name derives from the ancient Greek word for copper. As one of the most valuable commodities of the era, its discovery, exploitation and trade with Egypt and the Near East brought the island much wealth and prosperity. Given its unique location and wealth of resources, Cyprus has been conquered and colonised numerous times from ancient to modern historical years by the Phoenicians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Romans, the Ottomans and the British.
In 1960, Cyprus gained its independence from Britain. However, inter-communal unrest between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities resulted in the eventual invasion of the island by Turkey from the north. The island has since been effectively divided, the communities separated by what is known as the “Green Line” running through the island’s capital of Nicosia, making it the world’s last divided capital. Formal peace talks aimed at reunifying the island between the leaders of the two communities are ongoing.
In 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union and adopted the Euro as its currency in January 2008.
The Republic of Cyprus has a presidential system, utilising a multi-party system, with the president being elected for a five year term by popular vote through universal suffrage. The constitution provides for a clear separation of executive, legislative and judicial power. The House of Parliament which exercises legislative power is elected by proportional representation. The judicial system is based broadly on English common law and is presided over by the Supreme Court.
The official languages of the Republic of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish although English is generally the preferred language of business and is widely spoken across the island.
Cyprus has an open, free-market; service based economy and has been ranked as one of the fastest growing EU economies. The IMF listed Cyprus in 2011 as one of the 31 advanced economies of the world. Following the recession, the country returned to growth in 2015, exceeding expectations and recording a growth of 1.7% in 2015 and 2.8% in 2016. Growth for 2017 is expected to be in the region of 2.5% to 3%.
Living in Cyprus
Cyprus has much to offer its residents as well as its visitors, who in 2016 reached a total of 3.18million, contributing to 12% of the country’s GDP last year. Its coastlines and clear blue waters have earned the island records of the most Blue Flag beaches per coastline and per capita in the world. In addition, the island has scenic mountains offering quaint villages and nature trails which will journey you through the island’s history, culture, flora and fauna. Scattered across the island, one will find an abundance of archaeological sites representing various periods of the island’s history from the Venetian Walls in Nicosia to the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, as well as a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The mild winters further provide an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outdoors all year round and indeed winter swimming has become a popular sport over the years.
Cyprus has a vision to redefine the island moving it upmarket resulting in the development of luxury marinas, the island’s first and only integrated casino resort and new hotel developments.
Besides the high quality of life and superb Mediterranean cuisine, Cyprus also provides a very comfortable and safe environment with low crime rates, ideal for family life. The island has been ranked 5th world wide and 1st among small countries in the Safest Countries in the World Study of 2015.
Cypriots have always highly valued education resulting in an exceedingly developed educational system and one of the highest rankings in Europe for tertiary education per capita. In addition to the public educational facilities, Cyprus has five private universities and over twenty private secondary schools attended not only by local Cypriots but by an increasing number of third country nationals relocating to Cyprus. The government as well as the private sector are keen to establish Cyprus as a regional education centre and for good reason. The widespread use of English, the application of EU standards and the introduction of new courses to match the developing times (such as programmes in energy, oil and gas management or maritime studies) mean that Cyprus can provide an excellent education solution at very competitive prices.
Cyprus Citizenship Scheme
One of the main objectives of the economic policy of Cyprus is to encourage Foreign Direct Investments and to attract High Net Worth Individuals to settle and do business in Cyprus. It is within this objective that the Cyprus Citizenship Scheme was introduced. Subsequently, in September 2016 the Council of Ministers revised the criteria of the Scheme making it more attractive for foreign investors.
In order to qualify, the revised criteria provide for an investment under the following options:
An investment of at least €2million is to be made by the applicant for the purchase or construction of buildings or for the construction of other land development projects or infrastructure projects. Investment in land under development would also be covered in this criterion provided that an investment plan for the development of the purchased land is included in the application.
The applicant purchases or participates in companies or organisation established and operating in the Republic of Cyprus with an investment cost of at least €2million. The funds are to be used for the financing of the investment objectives of these companies exclusively in Cyprus. Additionally, the companies or organisations must have a proven physical presence in Cyprus, with significant activity and turnover, and employ at least 5 Cypriot or citizens of European Union Member States.
Under this criterion the applicant must acquire units of at least €2million from Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) established in the Republic of Cyprus, licenced and supervised by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and whose investments are made: exclusively in Cyprus; meet the criteria of the Citizenship Scheme; or are areas approved by the Minister of Finance.
The purchase of at least €2million of financial assets of Cypriot companies or organisation such as bonds, bills and securities, issued with the approval of the CySEC, and whose purpose is to finance investment plans of these companies or organisations exclusively in Cyprus, also fall under this criterion.
Provided that the total investment will amount to at least €2million, the applicant may proceed with a combination of the above investments.
In addition to satisfying one of the above criteria, the applicant must possess a privately owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus, the purchase price of which must be at least €500.000 plus VAT which must be kept for life, although there is no requirement for the investor to reside in Cyprus.
Permanent Residency Scheme
The Permanent Residency Scheme is an additional incentive project aimed at attracting High Net Worth Individuals and has been widely successful in attracting third country nationals to Cyprus.
In order to be eligible for Permanent Residency the applicant must fulfil the following criteria: